In this interview, I had the pleasure of chatting with Linda Singh, owner of Sitara Collections. Her company sells ethically sourced jewelry, beauty products and gifts. In our conversation, she talks about her company’s success, as well as how she took the leap from being a top-level marketing executive at a major beauty company, to starting her own ethically sourced brand. Read below to learn more about her amazing journey to success.
- Hello! Please tell us about yourself and your company.
I spent over two decades working for a global beauty company, Coty Inc. While there, I worked on various iconic fragrance brands, but decided to leave to start my own business and become an entrepreneur. Becoming an entrepreneur was always a dream of mine from a very young age.
- What inspired you to start Sitara Collections?
Two things inspired me to start my business. First, after marrying my Indian-born husband, I had the opportunity to travel throughout India on many different occasions. While there, I bought all kinds of gifts for friends back home in the USA. Friends started giving me their shopping lists for when I went to India. Second, while traveling throughout India, I met many artisans who made such beautiful handicrafts but were not being paid fairly for their work. Middlemen were taking the bulk of the profit from the artisans. I wanted to help the artisans, and with my marketing background, felt that I could.
- You were in the corporate world for over 2 decades. Are you still in Corporate America now?
No, I am not. I left my corporate job in June 2014 and have been devoted to Sitara Collections since then.
- How did you transition to take the leap to full-on entrepreneurship?
Well, I was very excited about being able to shape the vision of Sitara Collections. I love a challenge, and was able to jump right in by signing up for a trade show. The trade show was about a four-hour drive away from where I lived. I packed my husbands Honda with samples and tables, then drove to the trade show and set up a booth and tried to sell to retailers. I made three orders over four days and met a Distributor who was willing to add my line to their collection of brands. So, almost from day one, I had a long to do-list that kept me very busy. I focused on building a wholesale and consumer website that would tell the Sitara Collections story. I also needed to figure out the messaging, as we knew that we wanted to give back. My husband and I had already built a school in his ancestral village of Chanchali, India. We had to start a Foundation and get that up and running. I also needed to go to India to meet with artisans, select products, negotiate pricing and place orders. It’s been a whirlwind and I always seem to be working long days and have not had a proper vacation since leaving the corporate world!
- Your product line is ethically sourced (awesome!). Please tell us more about that.
I personally know the artisans, and together we wanted to create an ethical, transparent and sustainable jewelry line, so we make sure our artisans buy gemstones from non conflicted mines. Our gemstones originate from ethical and environmentally responsible sources.
- Most challenging and rewarding aspects about what you do?
One major challenge I was confronted with was the reality of dealing with the conflict between Kashmir and Pakistan. The Kashmir conflict is a territorial conflict primarily between India and Pakistan, having started just after the partition of India in 1947. India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir, including the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1947 and 1965, as well as the Kargil War. We spent time in Kashmir and I was working with an artisan group from there who made beautiful hand-embroidered pillow cushions and fabric for home décor. I was trying to get samples out of Kashmir to show our buyers, but the conflict prevented us from getting timely updates on our order. The internet was turned off in Kashmir and the owner of the company was unable to travel because he was Hindu. The most rewarding aspects of what I do are providing opportunities for women artisans, and helping to keep traditional craftsmanship alive in rural villages.
- How do you stay inspired as a creative entrepreneur?
I spend a lot of time attending trade shows, fashion shows, reading about trends, listing to podcasts, being with consumers at my Pop Up store at Trilogy Salon in Newark, DE and mingling with my wholesale clients. I love networking with others and helping them out if I can share anything with them that I have learned about starting and running a business. Selling online seems easy, but there are a lot of back end details that need to be completed in order to get high google rankings, traffic and customers. I have learned a lot about this and love sharing my knowledge with others.
- Future goals?
I hope to scale my business and become a well-known brand name. I hope to add additional artisans to the roster of artisans supplying Sitara Collections. I am also adding a new category of products that help to heal the mind, body and spirit. Some of the new items include Scent Therapies, Ayurveda products and aroma oils. Finally, we hope to see some of the children who attend our SVV School in India go on to college, possibly as the first in their families. We want see them contribute to help make the world a better place. To learn more about Sitara Collections, and our mission, please visit SitaraCollections.com.